A look into the world's very first LGBTQ+ rap battle league.
Despite the societal change towards progressive thought when it comes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender+ communities, Hip Hop remains one of the toughest industries to break into as an LGBTQ+ artist. While the presence of LGBTQ+ musicians like Taylor Bennett and Frank Ocean has aided in encouraging progress, a gatekeeper-like barrier still persists. For as long as it existed, the Hip Hop industry has been known to only make space for the heterosexual male and even more recently, female. As such, it is only through the arrival and efforts of individuals who dared to challenge the established narrative, that we are seeing such an effective change today. While efforts to create space for LGBTQ+ communities continues to be a challenging task, Bronx battle rapper Sara Kana is doing her part by launching the Hip-Hop centered LGBTQ+ platform Prism Battle League.
Prism is a battle rap league which mainly caters to emcees from the LGBTQ+ community. The New York-based initiative was uprooted by its creator, Sara Kana also known as "The God Mother" who made the announcement via a video-blog on her Youtube page back in 2016. The movement officially made its historic debut on January 9th, 2016 and has since successfully served as a platform which empowers the voices of the otherwise underrepresented and silenced communities. The organization operates with strong consideration of the LGBTQ+ movement, hence numerous battles coincide with related events, including Pride Week.
While other rap battle leagues such as Queen of the Ring previously created space for members of the LGBTQ+ community by having several openly gay lesbian battlers, Prism sets itself apart by solely dedicating their platform to LGBTQ+ folks. In all, the concept is refreshing and incredibly important to the culture. And since it's debut in 2016, the platform has accumulated a notable roster of talented individuals with a unique contribution to the art of battle rap.
Below, we'll break down the Prism battle rap artists you can expect to see this year.
Ty White has earned the alias of Mr. Limelight for a reason. The emcee holds a consistent streak at Prism. His slick bars slowly but surely destroy his opponents' ego while feeding his own confidence. Ty's glistening flow allows him to move through the room as he delivers his bars. It is not uncommon for him to leave his opponents shook, his lyrical output conveys back-to-back attacks which double up and nail his opponents. And just when things settle down, the rapper quickly delivers an unexpected heavy-hitter from under his sleeve that unravels his opponent along with the applauding screams of the audience.
Key bar: “Knee to the face, we pop up, causing breakouts, speak to me clean and clear in this race cause this pro active and coming for whiteheads, something you gotta face.”
Rap battler 40 B.A.R.R.S has a stronghold on the game and remains indubitably one of the battle rap’s queens. Hailing all the way from Boston, 40 B.A.A.R.S not only accounts for her opponent’s lyrical abilities in her responses but also targets their personal characters by way of potent bars. That is, bars which riddle the emcee's opponents with overwhelming self-doubt they likely dwell on the very same night. Moreover, 40 ensures to defend herself from her opponents’ attacks by detailing facts from the rumors about her. Though, do not let her personal introspection have you believing the next few bars won’t be right back to come for your neck.
Key bar:“Hit your head it’s like a tumor in your melon, bullets will spread even faster than them rumors you be telling.”
Couture is a seriously talented and strategic battle rapper. She targets her nemesis at the core, as her bars hit the guts and leave a lyrical mess. The Rhode Island-bred rapper's lyrics are ingenious, intricate and particularly catered to attack her opponent’s weaknesses, whatever they might be-- from their looks to their socioeconomic status. Couture will manage to breed insecurities surrounding her opponent's appearance, only to return with a streak of threats that’ll leave them her foe shaking. The female emcee's content includes creative and clever schemes that do not plan on beating around the bush anytime soon. Her rounds are structured, eloquent and delivered with a noticeable composure which affirms Couture's status as a silent killer.
Key bar: “He said I got 40 for you, I said thousand? He said no, 40 B.A.R.R.S, I said oh, the ghetto b*tch that lives in housing."
Melato Black’s powers can be found in her pen. The rapper's lyrical subject matter hints at the Jersey rapper's high intellect and the latter consistently shows through her sharp-edged delivery. The emcee's charisma and composure sustain the intensity of her blows throughout the battle. Furthermore, the steady use of precise wording and complex wordplay reveals Melato’s ability to crush those who dare stand before her.
Key bar:“So my objective, balm her, I’m on her, you get a sleeping bag if it gets intense, sticks smoking at the top, is it making sense (incense)?"
This battle rapper knows how to put on a show all while delivering some tough lyrical blows. In his clear objective to destroy his opponent’s self-esteem, Kazzy keeps it light and comical which further emphasizes his reign as one of Prism's best battle league rappers. With ease, the emcee continues to wow through each round by maintaining a succinct delivery and untouchable sequence.
Key bar:“Well, they set you up cause they made you the pilot and they knew as I blew up, you would die, that’s a kamikaze. I’m still giving you shots behind each bar, those are kamikaze. And if I get upset, there’s no way you can calm a Kazzy.”
DC reppin' emcee Jericho’s lines are brutally honest and slightly disrespectful. And in battle, opponents easily find themselves crushed under the palms of Jericho’s heavy lyrical weight. To note, despite his status as a newcomer on the battle rap scene, the artist continues to go hard and bring the heat to each round. When he steps away from bouncing rhymes off his opponent’s head, as usual, he flaunts unmovable confidence displayed through his witty and paced output.
Key bar: “B*tch I’m a shapeshifter, y’all know I’m a pharmacy technician, well yeah I’m about to change my profession to a gravedigger, and that’s a plot that J Munn in and y’all [Swisher & Cheshire] bout to lie in with him. Y’all probably hit the same tune like y’all riding with him and word of advice to anybody vibing with em, y’all can all get killed [kilt] like Scottish women.”
Staten Island's Swisher distinguishes himself with his intimidating demeanor. Moreover, the rapper's disrespectful haymakers regularly leave his opponents flushed, embarrassed. The nonchalant rapper knows how to hit his opponents with the right words-- the kind that will slowly build up and destroy their confidence. Swisher’s fearlessness is backed up by plenty of heavy bars which he fires one after the other with an incredibly unique delivery that sets the emcee apart from other battle rappers. Evidently, the runner up has earned the title of battle rap OG at Prism for a reason. His rhythm and style is one which attracts opponents to try and take on the dire task of challenging him on the battleground.
Key bar:“I done told y’all I am not the one, two, three or four, but I am the one to let off three from the fours.”
Kansas City's Cheshire is indubitably the king of smooth and nonchalant wordplay. As far as lyrics go, the rapper makes use of everything from cultural references to his opponent’s physical appearance, to destroy whatever shred of confidence they previously had. The rapper is calm and composed throughout each round, offering fewer gestures than most battle rappers. Yet the latter is understandable considering there is not much noise or extravagance needed when your bars carry such thunder.
Key bar: “I have you singing Star since you think you a pop b*tch, pop b*tch, or you can get them bald heads like Britney, or you can die over the lines like Whitney.”
Ohio-bred battle rapper J Munn’s delivery remains a comical spectacle as the battle rapper thoroughly gets into his bars. However, don’t let his performance distract you from taking in the heat he spits. Straight fire comes out of J Munn’s mouth and easily sets his opponent ablaze. The wit of J Munn's lyrical content takes serious jabs at his rival’s core. Each bar is glazed with a touch of disrespectfulness and humor that leaves J Munn’s opponents both flustered and uncomfortable. The artist engagingly taps into the art of battle rap by keeping all eyes on him every time he leans into a round. When J Munn aims, he shoots to kill.
Key bar:“You ain’t a no f*cking thug, I take your diamonds, stripped a bitch like player’s club.”
Carrying the alias of The King of the Lightskins, Ryan Eastlake never fails to offer both tea-spilling bars and surprises that leave his opponents shook. The battle rapper’s delivery reeks of cockiness which indubitably remains well-learned once he opens his mouth and sets his nemesis on fire. The emcee is at ease with wordplay. Indeed, Ryan Eastlake remains one of Prism's strongest battle rappers who continues to wow.
Key bar: "I came to bury you in Prism like King Tut.”